Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Turning Point: Laughing Gor Returns [Review]

Opinion: B-

Striking the audience hard with a relatively dense plot that thickened as the film progressed, plot twists and turns seemed to be loosely-reined by the screenwriters and saturated the entire film. Its relatively short running time of under 90 minutes and quick pace were determined not to leave anyone with space for thoughts and plot digestion in an otherwise well-acted feature with the likes of Francis Ng and Chapman To.

Laughing (starring Michael Tse) is sentenced to life-imprisonment for killing So (starring Bosco Wong). While serving his time, Laughing got to know Professor (starring Francis Ng), an introvert jailed for drug-dealing. Professor is a trained psychologist who reads mind, enabling him to manipulate and control others.

The visit of a mysterious lady from the Security Bureau confirms Laughing’s imprisonment is all part of a new mission… Is the mysterious Professor a friend or foe? Will Laughing complete his duty and survive the ordeal of mistaken identity.

"Laughing Gor" (translated literally into "Laughing Brother"), who had gathered an army of fans since its introduction in the 2009 TVB Hong Kong drama serial "EU", would very likely be the key driver of most of the occupied seats in a cinema screening.

Fans seemed to have taken a good liking to his character and made him such an audience favourite that it spawned another relevant television drama series as well as a prequel film to "EU" - "Turning Point". For the record, I had not watch any of the serials as well as the prequel film. This might render my opinion as a less relevant (or most relevant if you've similarly not caught any of the mentioned) one for fans out there reading this.

That said, my expectations of the film was very much overturned by the densely-scripted crime thriller. A title with "Laughing Gor" got me thinking that it would be a light-hearted affair by instinct, which was instantly proven otherwise right from the beginning.

Screenwriters took quite an effort to craft such a massive array of convoluting plot pieces where clues were devised to be fed piece by piece to the audience. Turning point seemed to be referring to the film's trait of multiple plot turns (or U-turns rather) because there were so many of them that it made it difficult to digest them sufficiently to progress at the same pace as the film.

Once concluded and dissected, one might unravel plot holes and certain questions that seemed to be almost impossible to explain. This was especially evident in Chapman To's role whose passionate dedication to the cause of the Professor's alternate philosophy of the society's legal system remained disturbingly unfounded.

In defence of Director Herman Yau's ambitious film, it's probably the lack of further minor plot details that could have strengthened the film's plausibility. Certain scenes felt like they could use a couple more sequences to substantiate its key message. That said, young "Executive Officer" Carmen's (played by Janice Men) wardrobe choice seemed to be jarring to that of a law enforcer. She was almost outfitted in vogue throughout the film as if she was dressed for shopping at Ginza. There's a threshold difference of having someone looking pretty while onscreen and crossing the line of plausibility.

Cast performance was good, especially that of Francis Ng and Chapman To. Despite a relatively small supporting role, To impressed whenever he's onscreen.  His act here deviated quite a fair bit from his typical jovial/gangsterism typecast roles as seen in several other films and it's a nice change I must add.

Ironically, nobody's laughing in this ├╝ber-serious film (yes, not even Laughing Gor despite his nickname). The film's seriousness would have complemented the ambitious script if not for the lack of detailed plot development that would have enhanced the film's credibility.

(Preview screening courtesy of Clover Films)


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